Kahn Develops a Modified Syphilis Test and the Universal Serologic Test (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Kahn developed a test for simplified detection of the venereal disease syphilis, which led to better syphilis control and to Kahn’s universal serologic test, an advance in immunology.
Summary of Event
Syphilis is one of the chief venereal diseases, a group of diseases whose name derives from Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The term “venereal” arose from the idea that the diseases were transmitted solely by sexual contact with an infected individual. Although syphilis is almost always caught in this way, it occasionally arises after contact with objects used by syphilis-infected people in highly unhygienic surroundings, particularly in the underdeveloped countries of the world.
It is believed by many that syphilis was introduced to Europe by the members of Christopher Columbus’ crew—supposedly after they were infected by sexual contact with West Indian women—during their voyages of exploration. Columbus is reported to have died of heart and brain problems very similar to symptoms produced by advanced syphilis. At that time, according to many historians, syphilis spread rapidly over sixteenth century Europe.
New diseases are always devastating, partly because of the lack of immunity, and early syphilis was no exception to the rule. Regrettably, the limited medicine of the time was of little help, and the early death rate from the disease was high. Every country...
(The entire section is 2048 words.)
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